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Alison Nguyen
History as Hypnosis V03

May 30 – July 6, 2024


A speculative road film that unfolds through cultural memory of the US war in Vietnam, the work follows three women, recently reprogrammed by an artificial intelligence that has wiped all traces of their previous lives, as they journey through an uncanny desert landscape to a nearby metropolis. In Nguyen’s hands, these figures without memory or history become a cinematic use case for themes of alienation, assimilation, and refusal. Freely combining genre, fact, and fiction, the film draws on its Southern California locations’ postmodern glass facades, mimetic architecture, and roadside infrastructure—markers of car culture’s entanglement with American expansionism and cinema history alike—to uncover the more ineffable links between collective consciousness and the Cold War military-industrial complex. Nguyen’s first major live-action project (in which she also appears) underlines recurring themes in her work, which spans film, new media, installation, sculpture, printmaking, and writing. For the artist, embodied performance bridges research and lived experience, and is also a means to engage with emergent technologies.

- Sophie Cavoulacos, Associate Curator. Dept of Film, MoMA

Image above: Installation view, Wallach Gallery, history as hypnosis V02, 2023, three-channel video, color, stereo sound, 32 minute loop; 42” monitors, monitor stand, metal seating. Right: Alison Nguyen, history as hauntology V.01, 2023, severed Seville, casters, dirt, electronic parts, LED lights, 109”1 x 61”w x 65”h.

Photo Credit: Alison Nguyen

Alison Nguyen is a New York-based artist whose work spans video, installation, performance, and sculpture. Her practice combines the particulars of the personal with an exploration into broader forces of history, particularly those entwined with technology. Her work has been presented at the Museum of Modern Art, MIT List Center for Visual Arts, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Korea, Vienna Secession, The Everson Museum, e-flux, The International Studio & Curatorial Program, op.cit., Signs and Symbols, KAJE, Ann Arbor Film Festival, International Film Festival Oberhausen, Channels Festival International Biennial of Video Art, True/False Film Festival, and Microscope Gallery. Nguyen received her MFA in Visual Art from Columbia University and her BA in Literary Arts from Brown University. She is a 2023–2024 artist in the Whitney Independent Studies Program.

Film Stills

Alison Nguyen, 2024, history as hypnosis, single-channel video, color, sound, 29 minutes 50 seconds. Produced by Rug and Vase.
Photo Credit: Alison Nguyen

Selected  Install Photos

Exhibition view, op.cit. (CDMX), Confusion Technique, 2024. Top: Alison Nguyen,  history as hauntology (process), 2024, pigment print on metallic rag, 12”x 16” (framed); Bottom: Alison Nguyen, Glove compartment, 2024 Seville cigarette case, cinder blocks

Photo Credit: Lorena Mal

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